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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, December 05, 2017 1:00 am

Hoosier sailor who died at Pearl Harbor coming home

Associated Press

EVANSVILLE – The remains of a Navy veteran who died in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor are being returned to his Indiana home.

George James Wilcox was 19 when a Japanese torpedo sunk his ship, the USS Oklahoma, killing him and more than 400 others, the Evansville Courier and Press reported. Wilcox had been buried in a mass grave until the Department of Defense identified his remains this year using DNA testing.

After Wilcox's family was alerted about the identification of the remains, they learned what they could about his life.

“All we knew was he died in Pearl Harbor,” nephew David Wilcox said.

The family discovered that Wilcox was the oldest of his three siblings. His father, George Wilcox Sr., took the children to St. Vincent Orphanage in Vincennes because he couldn't afford to care for them after his wife died.

“My grandpa couldn't afford to keep them, so he gave them up,” David Wilcox said.

George Wilcox was never adopted and opted to join the Navy with his father's permission. He was 17.

Wilcox's remains will be returned to Indiana this month. He'll be buried at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery, near his father's grave, in Evansville.